Heat advance to East final
Wade and James finish off Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS - There was nothing soft about Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
Wade scored 41 points, LeBron James chipped in 28 and the Heat finished off the Indiana Pacers, locking up a return trip to the Eastern Conference finals with a 105-93 victory in Game 6 Thursday night.
The Heat wrapped up the best-of-seven series and will face either the Celtics or the 76ers starting in Miami Monday. Of course, nothing less than an NBA title will make for a satisfying summer in South Beach.
Two series down, two to go.
The Heat rallied from an early 11-point deficit, riding the hot hand of Wade in the opening half. He scored 26 points by the break, tying Tim Hardaway’s 16-year-old franchise record for most playoff points in the first two quarters. James hit consecutive baskets with just more than a minute remaining to close it out.
The Heat will get a much-needed chance to relax before worrying about the next opponent.
David West led Indiana with 24 points and all five starters were in double figures. But that balance was overwhelmed by Wade and James.
In a game of spurts, the decisive one came in the closing minutes of the third quarter, the Heat powering out their third straight impressive win after falling behind, 2-1, in the series.
The Pacers tied it at 66 on Darren Collison’s 3-pointer, but it was all Heat the rest of the period. They closed on a 13-3 run, capped by Mario Chalmers’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner. Wade, who was on the bench getting his customary breather at the end of the quarter, leaped from his seat as the ball left Chalmers’s hand at the far end, raced along the baseline and pumped his fist when it swished.
As Chalmers raced toward the Miami bench, Wade greeted him near the free throw line with a low-five.
For the most part, D-Wade did his best work while in the game.
He dropped 11-of-16 shooting on the Pacers in the first half, but also made sure the MVP stayed involved, dishing off a behind-the-back pass to James for a thunderous jam.
Indiana clamped down a bit on Wade the rest of the way, but he still managed perhaps his most jaw-dropping basket. Darting into the lane, he threw up a wild-looking, one-handed shot that looked like it might go over the backboard, only to catch the top of the glass and drop in.